Managers Sans Frontières: Intercultural Effectiveness as a Leadership Competency

The French-based organization Médecines sans Frontières ("Doctors without Borders") has become well-known in recent years for its work in many parts of the world. As globalization continues to multiply the number of connections and interactions taking place across cultural boundaries, there is an increasingly critical need for managers leaders who can operate effectively across cultural boundaries.

The concept of doing business internationally is not a new one, but it is being fundamentally reinvented as a consequence of globalization. As recently as ten years ago, the international dimension of business impacted only a small percentage of the staff in most organizations. Today, in contrast, project teams, centres of excellence, joint ventures and strategic alliances routinely connect individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds with the expectation that they can and will interact productively.

Yet the ability to connect across cultural boundaries is not a skill that most people brought to the job when they were hired into the organization. Nor is it something that they can be expected to "pick up along the way". If we want individuals to interact productively across cultural boundaries, then we must assist them to develop the skills and attitudes to support such interaction. And if we want managers who can step outside the framework of their own culture to make decisions from a global perspective and who can effectively lead the multicultural teams and organizations that are increasingly becoming the norm rather than the exception, then we must develop them.

Read the Full Article in PDF format »


If your company is really serious about meeting the human challenges of globalization, then you'll take a long-term, integrated approach to developing a broad base of intercultural competency throughout your organization. For the seriously global company, intercultural effectiveness is a core managerial competency, not a last-minute add-on.
Craig Collins
Managers Sans Frontiéres: Developing Global Leaders